Debunk Dept.

Buncombe County, NC is the root of the commonly used word, bunk.  It was named after the county of congressman Felix Walker which alludes to in an inane speech by Mr. Walker before a tired and weary House committee that was waiting to vote on the question of the admission of Missouri as either a free or slave state.  He was eventually shouted down and never  got to complete his speech.

That Missouri question was a pivotal moment in American history and politics- a point which, in fact, Americans have not yet put away and which keeps seeping up to spoil our American psyche. This Missouri slavery issue prompted Jefferson to write:

“…but this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed indeed for the moment, but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence, a geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.”

will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.

And so it has and today, some 190 years later, that ‘irritation’ of which Jefferson spoke is division-making, especially in politics. Today’s ‘red states, blue states’ map  reflects very closely the slave states-free states map of 1820.

red= slave states, dark blue = free states

Here’s some rhetoric from that historic congressional debate which spilled over onto the “bleeding Kansas” debate some years later.  David Atchison, a Missouri senator,  proclaimed the Northerners to be “negro thieves” and “abolitionist tyrants.” He encouraged Missourians to defend their institution “with the bayonet and with blood” and, if necessary, “to kill every God-damned abolitionist in the district.”

The abolitionist senator Charles Sumner delivered a fiery speech called “The Crime Against Kansas,” in which he accused proslavery senators, particularly Atchison and Andrew Butler of South Carolina, of [cavorting with the] “harlot, Slavery.” In retaliation, Butler’s nephew, Congressman Preston Brooks, attacked Sumner at his Senate desk and beat him senseless with a cane.

Although these physical acts of violence do not occur any longer in the halls of Congress, the words and their subtleties do.  ‘States rights’ was the cleaned-up version of ‘harlot’ and ‘bayonet with blood.’ Southerners and their representatives in Congress hold states rights  a sacred platform of worship. Northerners for the most part believe that Federal law best serves this nation.

Thus, today’s bunk.

Were I born 250 years earlier, I would have been an ‘abolitionist tyrant’ for sure because that is in my psyche, my personhood. I may have even joined John Brown on one of his adventures.  I clearly would have worked for the Underground railroad in some capacity for my sense of justice runs deep.  Or most probably, I would have worked in some abolitionist newspaper, perhaps The Philanthropist.

That is why I chose ‘Man with the Muckrake’ as the title of my blog- ferreting out the truth amid the muck, the bunk, the lies and spin.  The Debunk Department,  so to speak.  I am especially furious with Jesus-pimping fundamentalists as well as charlatans who attempt to cover and couch their racial bigotry.  Neither sets well with me and my attack-dog instincts are heightened.

The Department of Debunk is now open for discussion on this 12th day of July, 2010.


12 thoughts on “Debunk Dept.

  1. The USA is a Federal Republic. That means something, it is a Union of compromise. A Compromise is a reality which which must be maintained.
    It requires that individual state power be surrendured to idea of a National Union. We have this idea that states are sovereign, but the maintence of the Union is an art. It goes against the basest human nature. It depends on the belief in a higher, nobler ideal, The Union.
    We seem to be losing the knack.

  2. Your comments are certainly very observant and well-taken and help explain the “Tea Party Movement” underlying racism and opposition to strong national government. I believe there is another historical precedessor which could be recognized. That is the the short history and limited power of the “Know Nothing” or “American Party” of the 1850’s.
    The “Know Nothings” refused to discuss their real views or organization much like the “Tea Party” being “for the Constitution” and “against big government.” They were a secretive organization but capable of drawing crowds to large rallies.
    They were adamanently against further immigration of Irish and German Catholics believing and spreading the fear that the Pope was trying to take over the country. They advocated prohibition against anyone born outside the United States holding any public office and jobs. (Might it be appropriate to substitute “Mexicans and other Latinos”, “Muslims and athiests”. and “liberals” ?)
    Primarily male and white, they were largely descendants of Scotish and English ancestry and Protestant Christian. Many had been members of the declining, leaderless and soon to become extinct, Whig Party. (Substitute “Republican Party ?)
    Although electing a Governor of Massachusetts, a few congressmen and briefly controlling a few state legislatures, their major political impact was in witholding support from Whig and/or sometimes Anti-Whig or Democratic candidates. Their only advocate as President was William Henry Harrison, who died after a month in office. The party broke apart because of the division over slavery and abolition, lack of leadership, and redevelopment of a stronger two party system – the new Republican Party and resurrected Democratic Party after the Civil War.
    Perhaps “returning to the good old days” means the 1850’s and the impending Civil War?

  3. Darrell- isn’t it curious that today’s Tea Party has much in common with a party identified as ‘know-nothing’? I believe that the Tea Party is just a cranky bunch of uninformed, malcontent bigots who don’t like taxes.

    There was a comment here recently from an angry Tea Party-like person who was mad at President Obama for the great ‘tax increase’ next year. The uninformed woman, who works in a nursing home, ‘believes’ that HER taxes are going up next year when the Bush tax cut for the uber-wealthy expires.

    …and these people vote.

  4. “Debunk” has a couple of suggestions to me. In one way it is suggesting ridicule or mockery. Another way is to to expose a falsehood. To be sure ridicule has its place, but exposing falsehoods seems to me to be less antigonistic. Debunnking can be very beneficial, if the person with the absurd thought is open minded and can be led to see the error in
    thinking. My opinion is that many people, once it is ascertained, deserve to be left alone in their absurdity. All the arguments in the world will not change their thinking. Why even be bothered by this 25-36 percenters?
    May spontaneous combustion come upon them…..They are beyond the pale and don’t deserve our time…..

  5. Hello Darrell Opfer,
    Your comparison to the “Know Nothing” party is a great one and “OH” how I wish I had said this. As we said in the Navy, “Bravo Zulu!!” (Job Well Done)

    Hello Uptheflag,
    When you said, “Why even be bothered by this 25-36 percenters? May spontaneous combustion come upon them…..They are beyond the pale and don’t deserve our time…..” Well I do think that they should be exposed for what they truly are. With all due respect my friend, I may remind you that in the early 1920’s Hitler was sitting in jail and wrote a little book expounding on his goofy ideas and no one took him seriously. In the second decade of the 20th century, during the last gasps of the Ottoman Empire, “The Young Turks” were just a small, little group of disgruntled, young military officers. Both were allowed to grow and fester, unnoticed because they were just a small group of people who were not threat and did not deserve our time. In the long run when it was all said and done, neither worked out well for the rest of the world.

    Hello Muddy,
    As far as “Plain Mad Jane,” just by using “Critical Writing” techniques employing “logical argumentation rules,” and Socratic irony, she is exposed as being incorrect of most everything that she had on her list of Anti-President Obama reasons, not based on any supportive facts and more to the fact that she is just repeating what she hears on Fox Programming or Conservative Radio. She has not thought through anything and her viewpoints and arguments are nothing more than nihilistic statements. She is just too easy to expose her “Nihilism.

    I will republish for those who missed my first encounter with “Plain Mad Jane” for which she had no reply.

    Hello Jane,
    You just gave a list but no follow up supporting statements giving proof to your opening line. This is called “Nihilism.”

    I only have a short amount of time so I will only address one item and demonstrate “Critical Writing” techniques for you so you may learn to better put forth your arguments.

    (Start with an “Opening Statement”)
    Jane, you have made the statement of holding President Obama responsible for what has been a failed policy of “Cash for Clunkers” that happened under his watch.

    (Give “First Supporting Statement”)
    Your first mistake is that you present the “Cash for Clunkers” as if it were solely President Obama’s policy but the facts are that a form of “Cash for Clunkers” was part of a global stimulus that many countries organized and enacted. France had Fiat in trouble; Germany had BMW, GM’s Opal, etc. All promoted and enacted their own “Cash for Clunkers” type of programs to prop up and save their domestic car companies from total devastation and closure.

    (Add “Second Supporting Statement”)
    You make the statement that the “Cash for Clunkers” did not work but the blatant evidence that Chrysler and GM are even still in existence in this country, is proof that your comment is not even remotely correct. These car companies were done, bankrupt, and closing their doors and for some dealerships, had closed.

    (Followup with “Third Supporting Statement”)
    Locally here on the Delmarva Peninsula, I have old school friends and some through my Republican connections, who own Mazda, Ford, Chevy, Buick, Nissan, etc. car dealerships. To complete this picture, between these three car dealership owners, they come close to having all of the car dealerships here on the Delmarva Peninsula. All have made personal comments to me and even public comments on the local NPR in Maryland, that it was the “Cash for Clunkers” program that saved their companies hands down. David Wilson, President and Owner of the Preston Group quote, “It is the success of the Cash for Clunkers program that has been directly responsible for car sales that saved the Preston Group car dealerships and have been able to keep my employees working.” This gratitude of car dealership owners in not just a local entity but can be echoed throughout the whole United States.

    (End with a “Closing Statement”)
    To conclude, your statement of the “Cash for Clunkers” was an example of a failed President Obama’s policy is not correct nor is it based on any supportive facts. It is nothing more that a nihilistic statement.

    Jane, I hope this gives you an example of properly presenting your opinions in a “Logical Argumentative” format. First gathering facts, organize these facts into a coherent thought process which will lead you to a more correct aspect of your point of views. Good luck in the future.

  6. UptheFlag- yes, combustion is right and fitting, but, as I said earlier, they do vote. You are right, though, in noting that we ought not waste too much effort on them.

    So who is the ‘target audience?’ The so-called independent? The Reagan Democrats? And, perhaps a better question, where do THEY get their information?

    Engineer- clearly masterful! Jane may not show up any more now that she knows that we deal on a ‘slightly’ higher level that she is accustomed to.

  7. I thought the cash for clunkers program was the greatest thing since sliced bread! But not for the reasons most people think. I think a huge, – albeit politically unmarketable idea – of the cash for clunkers program comes down to one word… Oil… The cash for clunkers was a great way to ameliorate future demand destruction brought on by the petroleum supply crunch of 2007 – 2008. The typical car has a 15 to 20 year window of usable life. The gov needed to increase the rate of turnover to newer more fuel efficient models quickly in order to stave off further economy killing oil supply issues. In the long run, the cash for clunkers will reap every dollar it cost by keeping petroleum at a reasonable cost for the time being. The same thing sort of happened during previous supply crunches.. but the free market sort of adjusted itself to smaller cars and trucks.. remember the K-car and the chevette? Those years of Detroit spitting out economy cars killed the oil industry.. Oil dropped to almost BELOW 10 dollars per barrel! But this time, Detroit and the general public were unwilling to give up their collective crack addiction to big SUV’s. I think the Gov was, and still is, hoping to reap a similar set of circumstances that occurred during the 1980’s with oil. Not only would a serious decline in oil demand spur economic growth, it would also put some serious pressure on the oil producing crazies – which would mean less US military involvement in those areas – saving billions in tax dollars. It’s such a great idea.. the Gov should just buy every body a compact car or one of the new electric cars in exchange for any vehicle that gets less than 20 MPG. A wholesale subsidy to spur the electric car industry would go a long way toward making petroleum obsolete.

    But that is not what this topic is about.. It’s about the intractable race issues that plague our country. Race is the 400 pound guerrilla in the room that nobody wants to see, or talk about. The issue of race clouds each and every domestic political decision in this country. It’s the domestic ball and chain that prevents us from progressing as a nation. But the reckoning day of race is speeding at us like an unstoppable juggernaut. Caucasians the world over are in decline. People of the sun however are growing in population exponentially. The idea of white bread Beaver Cleaver suburbia is slowly becoming a mirage. At some point, people will have no where to go to get away from “the other”. Which is a good thing because we need to consolidate into efficient cities in order to heal the environment and live and work more efficiently in a reduced energy reality of a post petroleum world.

  8. Steve- I always enjoy reading your perspective because you have deep insight into many of the problems facing this nation and the world.

    Cash for clunkers was, in my opinion too, an especially well-thought out plan for reducing oil consumption and, as a bonus, helped the auto industry get back on its feet. When I was a kid [about 1950] Toledo-owned Willys manufactured a pint-sized car [? Metro ] that we kids laughed at because we thought looked like a toy. Apparently so did adults because it faded away fast. Just think if that small car had ‘caught on’ how our history may have been different.

  9. Hello Steve and Muddy,
    I would also agree with you and Steve that the “Cash for Clunkers” also removed the more inefficient fuel burners that were being traded in for more fuel efficient models. “Cash for Clunkers” was a complementary, tandem, two fold, and benefit to our society.
    Muddy, I remember well the Metro as a child and thinking the design only needed Mickey Mouse’s head sticking out the top to make it complete. I think I remember a toy just like that in every Five & Dime store also. As far as a small car catching on I would point to German’s Volkswagen Type 1 but was nick named Bug because of its design. This car got gas mileage that was unheard of here in the U.S. when they were first imported. I had a friend whose father had a mid-1950’s Bug that had little wing arms that were located at the top just right behind the doors and would pop out with the turn signal. It was not until August 1967, the heyday of the U.S. Detroit Muscle Cars, that the Volkswagen Corporation began using the name “Beetle” in marketing materials in the US. In thinking back, the popularity of the great Beatle’s band could have helped out here also.

    By early 1972, the Beetle’s production had surpassed that of Ford’s Model T which had been the previous record holder.

    I am thinking of how the Beetle’s durable, dependable, quality reputation, made its way into our own culture with Woody Allen’s movie, “Sleeper,” when he and Diane Keeton were on the run 100’s of years in the future and they found a VW Bug in a cave. The joke was when Woody jumped in and it started right up. They drove off making their escape.

    Then there was the gas mileage that no U.S. car was getting. Bill Cosby told the joke when a neighbor first bough a VW Bug in the early 1960’s and they would sneak over at night and put gas into the car the first week he owned it so that the neighbor would think that we was getting great gas mileage, then they started siphoning out gas for the next week causing panic in the neighbor. Bill’s story joke went on; the neighbor took the car to the dealership complaining that something was wrong with the car. Neighbor talking to the mechanic, “I was getting my usual 200 miles per gallon then all of a sudden it dropped down to 10 miles per gallon.”

    There was also Walt Disney’s, “Herbie the Love Bug” series that had its own personality and the VW car could not be stopped. Of course by the late 1970’s and early 1980’s this title morphed into Herpes the Love Bug because the STD Herpes does not go away.

    In 1976, the Beetle was discontinued because of the competition of the small, fuel efficient, but new designs of the Japanese imports that took over the U.S. market. Thinking back over the years, I would have to say that the Beetle’s well received design, quality, and fuel efficiency did catch on and made car history different in this country and around the world.

    So conclude, I would have to say that a small, fuel efficient, car did have a place in the U.S. market all the way back into the 1950’s….It just wasn’t an American Car Company.

  10. Engineer- great tidbits of information. I was wondering if those small cars had caught-on, how the geopolitical history of our nation might have differed. For example, take this historical event with its attenuating terrible consequences:

    The Gulf War. Had we Americans accepted small fuel efficient cars way back in the 50’s and 60’s–

    • Would we have cozied-up to the Saudis and other oil monarchies like we did?

    • Would we have had any interest in Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait?

    • Would we have asked King Fahd to allow American soldiers to be stationed in Saudi Arabia to counter the Iraqi threat?

    • Would bin Laden have been angry at us?

    It seems to me that Americans are not too visionary about most things and are most engaged in the passing fancy.

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